The 2009 Information and Communications Act defines ‘information and communications’ as “the emission, transmission or reception of information, including without limitation, voice, sound, data, text, video, animation, visual images, moving images and pictures, signals or a combination of them by means of magnetism, radio or other electromagnetic waves, optical, electromagnetic systems or any agency of a like nature, whether with or without the aid of tangible conduct”. There is no definition provided for information and communication technologies (ICTs). The term education technology (EdTech) is not used in government documents.
Constitution and laws: There is no ICT Act. The 2009 Information and Communications Act provides for the development of information and communications policies and plans that encourage the advancement of education and training programs (Article 8). The Act also establishes the Universal Access Fund, which includes telephone and internet services. Cooperation in the management of universal access or service is extended to education and other sectors (Article 113). The role of technology in the country’s development is highlighted in the revised 2020 Draft Constitution of The Gambia, which stipulates that the State shall “recognise the role of science, research and indigenous technologies in the development of the nation” (Article 12). The Basic and Secondary Education Act passed in 2018 could not be found.
Policies, plans and strategies: There is no ICT in Education/EdTech policy, although the 2016-30 Education Sector Policy aims to develop one, considering it “vital for the successful achievement of the sector’s main priorities”.
The 2013-22 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which aims to harness science and technology towards the sustainable development of The Gambia, includes education and training as an integral part of the policy. The policy’s overall vision is to create and enhance a scientifically cultured society that contributes to the realization of a knowledge-based economy, with a mission to build and strengthen national capacity and competencies in science, technology and innovation that will enhance the attainment of economic development and national competitivenes. Specific education objectives include the development and improvement of STEM education across all levels and the training of teachers in science, technology and innovation as part of the country’s human capital development.
The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy and 2016-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan include dedicated sections on STEM, ICT , and Educational Broadcasting Services, with one of the policy priorities being the promotion of science, technology and innovation. The guiding principle for education is premised on the development of science and technology competencies for the desired quantum leap, with ICTs recognized as “essential tools to better facilitate effective and efficient management of the sector” and make quality education accessible to all.
The 2021-24 e-Government Strategy aims to improve the education system through e-education, while the 2020-24 National Broadband Strategy includes several objectives to increase access to ICT infrastructure in schools as well as student digital literacy.
The 2021-24 Human Capital Development Strategy highlights the strengthening of STEM education at all education levels to develop human capacity.
The vision of the 2018-21 National Development Plan is to make The Gambia a “digital nation” and create a “modern information society”, with the government striving to harness the benefits of ICT in all sectors, including education. ICT is viewed as a tool to improve education service delivery, with specific objectives in increasing STEM education and ICT infrastructure in schools.
Digital competency frameworks: There is no digital competency framework for teachers or students, although the 2011 Curriculum Framework for Basic Education includes science and technological skills as one of the key learner competencies of basic and secondary education.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Education Sector Safe School Framework for Coronavirus (COVID-19) aimed for all schools to develop school safety frameworks, technology-based curriculum delivery to be pursued, and teachers to be supported in the re-orientation of curriculum delivery.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2020-24 National Broadband Strategy aims to coordinate the provision of critical services (including power/electricity) to schools. During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the Education Sector Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Plan supported solar energy as an alternative source of energy for radio and television operations involved in distance learning.
Computers and devices: The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy aims to progressively provide all public educational institutions with networked computers and computer peripherals, while private institutions are required to include ICT as part of the educational curriculum. Access to ICT resources and facilities in schools also aims to be made available to out-of-school youth and other members of the community. The 2018-21 National Development Plan additionally supports the provision of “state-of-the-art infrastructure”, such as smart-boards, auto cads, and computers, in schools. During the COVID-19 outbreak, regional radio stations were established in 6 educational regions as part of the Education Sector Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Plan.
Internet connectivity: The 2009 Information and Communications Act extends universal internet services to education institutions (Article 113). The provision of internet connectivity in public schools is also highlighted in numerous policy and strategy documents. The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy supports the provision of broadband internet and related resources to all public schools, while the 2020-24 National Broadband Strategy similarly aims for every public school to have affordable access to at least not less than 5Mbps broadband service as part of universal access. The government also supports the enhancement of internet connectivity in schools through its 2018-21 National Development Plan which aims to increase the roll out of regional ICT centres to enhance connectivity to schools and communities. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the country’s Education Sector Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Plan additionally supported the provision of internet connectivity in schools to facilitate learning through social broadcasting platforms.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy and and 2016-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan include several provisions for distance learning through the use of ICT in order to increase the participation of students wishing to study at work or from home. Both documents have dedicated sections on Educational Broadcasting Services (EBS) for both in-school and out-of-school settings, with objectives to establish new EBS television and radio stations to facilitate the transmission of educational information and strengthen teaching and learning in all educational institutions. EBS aim to be strengthened and expanded to incorporate broadcasts for adult learners and out-of-school youth.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education initiated a radio and television distance learning programme, which was complemented by e-Learning and printed materials. The 2020 Education Sector Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Plan was a short-term strategy, with no long-term objectives included.
The 2011 Curriculum Framework for Basic Education includes science and technological skills as one of the key learner competencies of basic and secondary education. The development of digital skills is also highlighted in several government documents. The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy states that the curriculum should place emphasis on technology education at the basic and secondary level “to build competency of good foundation for employability, further learning and global citizenship”, while science and technology are included as part of the basic learner competencies at upper basic level. The development of digital skills is also highlighted in the 2021-24 Human Capital Development Strategy which aims to achieve 95% digital literacy in schools and 80% digital literacy amongst the Government’s workforce. The 2020-24 National Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan additionally supports reviewing and updating the primary, secondary and tertiary level education curriculum to include cybersecurity components. It specifically aims to create standards in cybersecurity training and education and integrate cybersecurity awareness-raising efforts into ICT literacy courses at schools and universities.
The development of Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics (STEM) Education is similarly supported in many policy and strategy documents. The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy and 2016-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan include STEM education as part of the top priorities and as a pre-requisite for skills development, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and employability. The government specifically supports the implemention of strong STEM education policies and programmes and increasing access to STEM at all education levels, with particular focus on youth, girls and marginalized groups. Similar objectives are set in the 2013-22 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which aims to develop and improve the quality of STEM education across all education levels, increase student enrolment in STEM subjects, while reviewing the existing science, technology and innovation education policies to ensure the development of higher-order cognitive, critical, analytical and entrepreneurial skills among students at all the educational levels through effective STEM education “that meets the changing needs of an innovative and knowledge-driven society”. The 2018-21 National Development Plan similarly highlights that the education sector should continue to focus on developing and implementing a STEM curriculum and increasing student competency achievements in Math and Science.
The 2016-30 Education Sector Policy highlights the development of ICT skills for both pre-service and in-service teacher training, while the 2013-22 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy supports teacher training in science, technology and innovation fields. Similarly, the 2018-21 National Development Plan aims to train more pre-service and in-service teachers in STEM. Finally, the 2020-24 National Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan aims to develop qualification programmes for cybersecurity educators and start building a cadre of existing and new professional educators. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the country’s Education Sector Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Plan additionally supported the provision of teacher training on the use of social media and existing platforms (Radio, TV and Online) to deliver digital learning materials.
2.4.1. Data privacy
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
There was no law, policy or strategy found on online abuse or cyberbullying in schools. The 2020 Education Sector Safe School Framework for Coronavirus (COVID-19) does not include provisions on online abuse or cyberbullying.
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), which oversees the education system at the basic and secondary level, has a Science and Technology Education Directorate which is responsible for advising on and co-ordinating all aspects relating to the design, programme development, training and capacity building in the area of science and technology education in schools and the sector as a whole. The Directorate is also responsible for the further development and enhancement of science and technology education at all levels.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) is responsible for the development of the ICT sector in The Gambia, providing an enabling environment for the sector, with several sub units namely: Post, Media, Publications, Telecommunication, Information Technology, Regulatory, Technology, Science and Planning and Development.
While there is no blanket government ban on the use mobile devices in classrooms, some schools have decided to ban their use in class.